While you all probably have a shortlist of some standard questions when discussing e-commerce project requirements with a lead, some often get overlooked and can make a difference between a successful story and, well, the other kind. Here are top 3 questions to ask early on in your sales process to make lives easier for both the client and yourselves.
Ok, you’ve done the homework on lead generation (there’s a blog post coming up about how we do it, so make sure to stay tuned) and you’re in talks with a lead.
What you’ll often dive into right away is project requirements, feature discussions, value proposition of your solution, budget and timeframe expectations – and all of these are indeed essential for figuring out if you are the right fit – I came across a good article on selling features vs benefits vs value just recently, so check it out – it may come in handy for this part of your sales process.
What often gets overlooked, though, are some topics that are bound to arise, and if expectations are not set properly from the start, well – you simply know what’s about to hit the fan. This advice comes straight from the heart, as we’ve made all these mistakes on some of our previous projects.
Here are the three questions you should always remember to ask:
What is your previous e-commerce experience?
Don’t assume the client is clueless about e-commerce concepts, but also don’t think they are the next best thing after Tony Hsieh, even if they say they have a proven track record.
Make investigations, talk to the client about what are the key success factors for the business model they have in front of you, and you’ll get a better understanding of who you’re sitting next to at the table.
Hopefully you already have some experience in the business, so you’ll be able to quickly assess their knowledge and suggest the best way of working together.
Who will be our main point of contact?
Will they be a technical person and what is their primary responsibility and area of expertise? More often than not you’ll get into a situation where you’ve talked things through with the CEO or CTO only for the project communication to be assigned to someone who might have less knowledge of e-commerce (or Magento for that matter) than you would have anticipated or hoped for. Also, it can be a bit frustrating not to be in direct contact with the decision-maker.
Of course, you can make things work in any case – it’s only a matter of preparation for your Project Manager and developers to make sure they ask the right questions and speak the language your contact speaks best. You can lose several days as the project kicks off trying to explain a technical issue to a marketing person if you’re not aware they are, in fact, a marketing person 🙂
What exactly do you expect from us?
Now, this one is a bit tricky and you may think you have it figured out from the project specs or an RFP if the client had one to begin with, but are you really sure that you know the answer to this?
While you won’t be asking this particular question, it is very important to understand if the client simply wants you to develop a state-of-the-art technical solution or perhaps create an amazing user experience and the buck stops there – someone else on their team will be in charge of all marketing and store management activities after the launch.
It’s a whole different ball game if they expect to be able to count on you for all things e-commerce and are hoping you’ll be the partner that will lead them to prosperity (we actually had one lead come to us with this exact phrase – nice one, right?).
Are you assuming you’ll deliver the site and leave the table? Is the client assuming you’ll be there to keep a close eye on everything and suggest improvements after the launch? For how long?
Assumptions are the worst enemy of any business relationship, and while you probably can’t (and perhaps even shouldn’t) define all the features needed and desired on Day 1, you can certainly define expectations, so make sure to do so, otherwise you can find yourselves in all kinds of trouble later on.
Care to share?
So, there you go – three questions to help you manage expectations and your next project as a whole at least a tad better.
What’s your experience? What works best for you – having a clean slate and being the ones in charge? Or do you work better with clients who already have experience with similar projects? Let us know in the comments below.